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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11: A Mom Remembers


I don't remember what I was doing the exact moment the plane flew into the first tower. I had a 20-month-old, so I was probably changing a diaper, cleaning up spilled cheerios, or performing Itsy Bitsy Spider for the seventh time that morning.

I happened to turn on the TV right after the initial crash. At that point, the "Today Show" was still calling it an accident. I saw live coverage of the second plane hitting the second tower. I guess Matt Lauer, Katie Couric and I realized at the same time that our country was under attack.

In my previous life in the corporate arena, I had visited the World Trade Center for a business meeting. As a 20-something woman from Iowa, I was terrified of navigating New York City solo. My company sprung for me to stay in the swanky Marriott World Trade Center Hotel, so I only had to take a cab from the airport to the WTC and back. The hotel was connected to both towers. It had reopened only a few months prior to my visit, having suffered extensive damage from the 1993 WTC bombing.

Knowing I would be staying at the site of a recent terrorist attack contributed to my uneasiness about the trip. It was eerie, and I couldn't wait to get out of there. I never would've guessed that--just six years later--the hotel (and the rest of the World Trade Center) would be obliterated by a far worse attack.

On September 11, 2001, Hubs was in North Dakota on business. As I watched the events of that day unfold, it became clear to me that Hubs would not be flying home. Somehow, amid the chaos and growing number of stranded travelers, he was able to rent a car and drive the 12 hours back to Iowa.

As a toddler, Son was blissfully unaware of most things taking place outside of our home. Lucky him; he had no clue our country had just been rocked to its core. But my 7-year-old niece would surely have questions when she came home from school. My sister (her mother) had passed away in January of that year, so my niece was living with us. I wondered if she'd heard about the morning's events while at school.

She had. And, as expected, she was full of questions--questions I couldn't begin to answer. Why would somebody want to kill people they don't even know? Why did they pick our country? Why did they pick today?

Will they do it again?

A week later, I found out I was pregnant with Daughter. With our country in a state of devastation, anger and confusion, I could've easily freaked about bringing another baby into this messed up world. But I didn't. Yes, our country had been caught with its guard down. Depending on which account you choose to believe, we had no idea what was coming, or we failed to heed the warnings. Either way, the 9/11 attacks brought to light some weaknesses in our government's defense strategies and communication policies. We are no longer such an easy target. They knocked us down, but they didn't knock us out. And we're stronger for it.

I can't think of a better, safer time to live in the United States.

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